Northern Ireland

DETI cuts funding for NI sporting and cultural events

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Media captionThe DETI announcement means arts events, will lose a significant amount of money from their budgets

Thousands of pounds in government funding have been cut for sporting and cultural events in Northern Ireland.

In a statement, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) said it was scrapping the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) events fund.

Events including the North West 200 and Culture Night Belfast will be affected.

The department said the cuts were the result of a "very difficult financial" situation facing the Executive.

It said: "Given these circumstances, the NITB events fund open call for next year will now not go ahead."

The department added that the decision would not affect "events with a letter of offer from NITB which extends into 2015/16".

'Catastrophic'

The announcement will affect a number of sports and arts bodies in Northern Ireland, with top sporting competitions including the Milk Cup and the Ulster Grand Prix facing funding difficulties.

Major cultural events including the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the Festival of Fools will also lose a significant amount of money from their budgets.

The programme manager of Culture Night Belfast, Adam Turkington, said the cuts would be "catastrophic" for Northern Ireland's arts sector.

He said: "The grant we get, which is £30,000, represents a third of our budget. We run a really tight ship and we can't deliver the event for two thirds of what we get at the moment.

"We will desperately have to try to find new avenues of funding.

"We have an open site, not a designed venue. We put that money into infrastructure to keep 50,000 people safe. It would be negligent to deliver the event with a cheaper budget, because it just wouldn't be safe."

Image caption The director of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sean Kelly, attended a meeting at the Black Box in Belfast on Saturday to discuss a response to the budget cuts

'Scale down'

A special meeting was held at the Black Box in the Cathedral Quarter area of Belfast on Saturday to discuss how to deal with the funding cuts.

The director of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sean Kelly, said he was "absolutely devastated", and that the group would have to "completely re-think what to do for the festival in 2015".

"We're going to have to scale down the event and reduce the number of artists that we bring over," he said.

"Festivals and cultural events have a huge knock-on effect for the local economy, so when you scale down the events, you take work away from people.

"We're a bit battered by the news, but as they say, the show must go on."

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